What to Expect from High School Tennis
Tennis is an awesome sport, and very different from most other sports. It's either 1-on-1 or 2-on-2, so you don't get stuck in a role where you only throw, run or play defense. You get to/have to do it all! Some players win with speed or with quick hands while others just hit great shots. Athletes from a variety of backgrounds love that they can find their own way to win.
The coaches provide tons of opportunities to improve without forcing tennis to dominate your life year-round. Players who try tennis as a 2nd or 3rd sport frequently tell us how much they love the team's atmosphere. The most common regret among our graduating players is that they wished they would have started sooner. In general, the coaches love the sport, and they want you to love it too.
The rest of this is a long read/tl;dr. But we do recommend that parents and players at least skim it at some point to see if anything catches your eye.
Tennis is a short and volatile season. In general, expect uncertainty. But here are some specifics.
General Info: Sherwood High School currently provides funding for 1-2 coaches each for the tennis teams. Usually, that means that we’ll have a varsity and a JV squad, varying in size by year. We strive to be a No-Cut team (and achieve it almost every year), but there are no guarantees. If cuts have to be made, different coaches have made them on blends of academics, attitude/work ethic and potential to contribute to the varsity team in the current or future years. Between the coaches and volunteers, we’ll do what we can to provide the best experience that we can.
Other things to expect throughout the season:
1) Rain: There will certainly be practices and matches impacted by rain. As for everything else, keep an eye on sherwoodtennis.net for official updates. By early afternoons on match days, the home team's athletic director will take their best guess about whether or not the match will be playable. Matches are not playable on wet courts and forecasts of "occasional showers" are frequent in the Spring, so it really is a guess. So, expect rain-outs and make-up dates for matches. Note that Saturdays are considered playable days for make-up matches during the season. They rarely happen, but they may.
2) Late nights: Varsity matches have 8 matches, which take 40-180 minutes each, frequently on only 4 courts. Most teams have a second site for JV, but if they don't, JV matches go on after varsity. Our goal is to get everyone a match if possible, so some of the road trips can go fairly late. That will sometimes require a stop for dinner on the way home as well. Players can usually find some down time on the bus or before or after their match for homework, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure they get a little extra done the night before a match.
3) Small teams: Some schools have small teams and no official JV team, so not everyone will get to play.
4) No referees: High school tennis players make their own line calls. Calling lines is a learned skill and lots of players will butcher a lot of line calls. I don't think more than about 5% are actively cheating, but even at the varsity level, matches are full of bad calls. Players also keep the official score, and mistakes get made. That leads to #5.
5) Parents: Don't get involved in the matches: Even when you see bad line calls or people getting the score wrong, parents need to stay out of it. Coaches for the most part have to stay out of it and can only over-rule their own players. Parents should stay 100% out of it. This will be difficult for you - there's nothing worse than seeing your son or daughter win a match, but have a score disagreement or bad call result in it going the other direction. It happens, and it's not fun.
6) Parents can't coach (or yell "helpful" advice from the sidelines). Most competitive tennis does not allow any coaching at all. High school tennis is unique in that it allows a little coaching. Parents do not count as coaches and coaching can result in penalties for the players.
7) Expect competitive matches where all players matter. For the most part, each team's best will face off while less experienced players play each other lower in the line-up. And all 8 of the varsity matches count the same, so a win at #4 doubles counts the same as a win at #1 singles. Some matches are won by a team's top players, but most matches are won by the lower positions.
8) No subs. This is one place where tennis is fairly unique. For each match, we set a line-up and that is who plays for the day. There are no subs for injured or tired players. Players who are just having a bad day will need to dig deep and try to find a way to still win. For varsity team members who aren’t in the line-up for the day, we will always try to get them a non-counting practice match at the end.
9) A short season. Tennis season is practically over before it begins. Winter sports run for almost four months. Tennis season for most players is 9-10 weeks. Considering that we’ll get rained out for part of that time, total practice time each season is very limited. Because of that, the coaches appreciate when players are as dedicated as possible to tennis during the season. Taking a family vacation during the season or trying to do secondary sports/activities put a bigger than expected dent in the season. For players who want to move up the line-up, off-season practice is highly recommended (but not required).
10) Expect a few decisions you don't like from the coaches. Every season is different, and the coaches generally need to balance a lot of goals:
Preparing top players for the district and state tournament
Upcoming player development (preparing to win next year)
Not everyone will get to play in every match. Players may not get to play with their favorite doubles partner. You may have to play doubles instead of singles (or vice versa). You may move from #3 singles to #1 singles and get killed because #1/#2 were put into doubles. Players and parents should not take it personally – it's about what is best and right for the team. Trust me, we are not trying to ruin your day.
11) Expect some easy wins and "easy" losses. The variation between team levels in Oregon tennis is HUGE. Some teams are amazing. Other teams are not. Please prepare to bring a good attitude to every match, regardless of the situation. Use the easy matches as opportunities to work on some part of your game, and learn what you can from the players who are beating you. Some days you are the windshield, and some days you are the bug. Treat your opponents how you would want to be treated in the same situation.
12) Lots of volunteers. Our program is blessed to have several volunteers who help with the high school season and the off-season programs. Each coach has a wide variety of tennis knowledge and different areas of expertise - you'll learn a lot from each of them if you are willing.